In May 1996 China announced radical plans to restructure its current arrangements for the education of young people with disabilities. This paper provides an overview of the origins and extent of the existing system of China's special schools, describes the proposed policy changes and presents an analysis of possible reasons for them. A number of advantages that China has in pursuing the new changes are also suggested. Data for this research was collected by a variety of methods, including the use of Guangdong province as a sample region. Numerous visits were made to a variety of special schools and settings in Guangdong to ascertain current curriculum arrangements, including categories of disability catered for, the process of student selection, content and methods of instruction and the means of teacher training. Subsequently, an examination was made of current special school curriculum documents and an analysis of relevant literature were made. Interviews were conducted with senior policy makers in Guangdong, as well as with a selection of principals and senior staff from special schools and rehabilitation centres. Other Interviews with Chinese academics from a number of mainland and Hong Kong universities familiar with the research field were also conducted. The paper concludes by proposing that China has three main advantages in its attempt to integrate students with disabilities into its regular school system. These are the highly centralised nature of the education system, the chance to learn from the successes and failures of other countries and the chance to focus its fiscal resources and energies on building integration infrastructures without first having to dismantle or deal with a comprehensive special education system complete with its own momentum, lobby groups and resistance to change.
|Published - 1996